Friday, August 9, 2013


He really should have known better, than to have ever teased me about not slicing his sandwich diagonally, the way his momma always did.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


One of our assignments in Wild Summer Art was to think about some of the birdbaths we have known over the years, and any memories that may be connected to them. I immediately thought of the little elephant birdbath we had at our house in Plano. Oddly enough, it wasn't until after I had sketched him, and started to paint in a background, that I thought about Lex and those poppies.

You see, this little fellow was meant to be the centerpiece in my daughter's very first garden. Lexie, who was about thirteen or fourteen at the time, decided it was to be an herb garden. Unfortunately, once she got all the herbs planted, and the hot summer weather set in, she totally lost interest in it. For several months it just sat there looking sad and forlorn. So, when an elderly lady in one of my garden clubs offered me a little medicine bottle filled with tiny poppy seeds that she had collected from her own plants, I decided to scatter them about in this wasted space.

This particular variety had rather unattractive, spiny gray foliage, which ended up making the garden look even more unkempt, but I put up with it because I knew what was in store. At last, the heavy pods were ready to burst into bloom. The first thing I did each afternoon, when I got out of the car, was head straight to the garden to see if any had opened yet. Then one day, POOF! All of my poppies just disappeared. I was sick with disappointment, and couldn't figure out for the life of me what creature could have done this. I never got to see even a single bloom! It was all I could do not to burst into tears.

As soon as I stepped into the house, my daughter came running down the stairs with a big grin on her face. "Surprise!" Huh? "Didn't you see? In the garden! I finally went out and pulled all those ugly weeds in the herb garden!" And, POOF! Just like magic, my anger went the way of the poppies and disappeared. I gave her a big hug, thanked her for her efforts, then gently explained to her the difference between a poppy and a weed.

P.S. Though the garden and the birdbath are from our house near Dallas, the birds are all frequent visitors to our garden here in central Texas.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


The first half of summer was just about as good as it gets here in central Texas, but now we've settled into an endless string of 100+ days, with no clouds or rain in sight. Man-oh-man, what I wouldn't give for a nice dreary day!

Since I don't get out unless I have to, once it gets like this, I'm all the more dependent upon A.C., art projects, and a pile of good books, to help me survive until fall. Books like this one...

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell -- yet another page-turner stumbled upon in the Young Adult section. Could. Not. Put. It. Down!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Knowing how to parent our adult children is tough, is it not? Knowing just when to offer help, and when we need to back off? And, just when you think you've got it figured out, you realize that what worked well with one kid isn't working at all with the next one! There's only one thing harder -- learning to BE an adult child.

There were four kids in my family, and since my parents weren't in the habit of handing out spending money, we started earning our own as soon as we were old enough to babysit, or in my brother's case, dig ditches for my dad. The day I turned sixteen, I was out beating the bushes, looking for a part-time job.  I opened my own checking and savings accounts when I got my first paycheck and, from that point on, I paid for all my own school stuff, made all of my own clothes, and saved up enough money to put myself through college. When I moved to Austin, to attend UT, my bank statements continued to be mailed to my parents' address. When I came home at Thanksgiving and discovered that my father had been opening them, to check and see that I was "spending my money wisely", I just about blew a gasket! He was quite shocked at my reaction. Apparently he had always done that with my older sister Kathy, and it hadn't bothered her in the least.

Within a few weeks of my graduation, I had married and moved to Indonesia. I never had to worry about them treating me like a child, or poking their nose into my business, again. My siblings, who all stayed close to home, were not so fortunate. There were, however, some tradeoffs for all of this freedom and independence.

My parents never offered to babysit for us, picked up my kids from school, or took care of a sick kid so I wouldn't have to miss work. They never offered to give my kids a ride, when I needed to be three places at once. They have never visited when we were sick or in the hospital. They have never done yard work, repairs, or remodeling for us. The have never lent us money or helped us to move. Even when we moved back to Dallas -- when the kids were about ten and thirteen, I was back in school but still working part-time, and my hubby was out of the country more than he was home -- they still never offered to lend a hand. I guess they just assumed I had it all figured out by then, and didn't need or want any help, and of course, I was too proud and stubborn to ask. But at least I didn't have to put up with unsolicited advice, right?

Ahhhhh, if only we could have our cake, and eat it too!

Monday, August 5, 2013


Color Mad Monday is dedicated to things that make my heart go pitter-patter.  Sometimes it's found in the garden. Sometimes it's a grouping of glassware or pottery. Sometimes it's textiles. Always, it's about color. Believe it or not, certain color combos can make me go weak in the knees. Like this one.

 I like my colors hot and spicy, bordering on lurid. I don't do timid and pastel.

Art supplies definitely make my heart go pitter-patter!

Are those gorgeous, or what? That's my collection of Caran D'Ache Neocolor II water-soluble wax pastels (not to be confused with the Neocolor I, which is not water-soluble). These are what I used to "paint" the picture above, and they are perfect for the person who has always been afraid to try watercolors, because they are so much easier to control. They are kind of expensive, being Swiss made and all, so I started out with a simple set of ten.

When we were going to Houston every few months, to visit one of John's doctors, there was a great art supply store that carried these crayons individually, so I would add a few more colors each time I went. Too bad he doesn't go to that doctor anymore. The good news is that, when I was in Dallas last week, I made a quick stop at Asel Art Supply before heading out of town. Guess what they carry?

Yes, I know, it probably would have been much cheaper to just buy a larger set to start with. However, it would have hurt a whole lot more, and the pleasure wouldn't have lasted nearly as long, now would it?

Sunday, August 4, 2013


In this Wild Summer Art class that I've been yammering about for the last six weeks, instructor Junelle always ends the week with a challenge. A couple of weeks ago, it was a doozie. She actually dared us to unplug ourselves for a bit -- to turn off facebook and all other social media, at least for a day. Can you imagine? She claimed that the trick to her being a busy artist was to turn off the computer and get her head and her heart busy with her own art. She even went so far as to promise that if we would do this every now and then, we would:
  • make more art
  • focus on our own inspired ideas
  • use our own palette of colors
  • not find ourselves comparing all the time
Most importantly, she said, our art-heart would thank us for listening to her! Those are some pretty big promises, are they not? I knew that shutting off my computer here at home would be mighty tough, especially when I was in the middle of an online class, so I decided to try it while I was in Dallas. Normally, I would be going to my sister's computer three or four times a day to check email and facebook, but this time I ignored it completely for three whole days, and survived without a scratch. Granted, I was there to take an art class from someone else, so I wasn't exactly focused on my own art-heart that whole time. It did, however, get me to thinkin'.

Here's my great epiphany. Every teacher I've taken a class from has had their own unique style. Christy Tomlinson likes messy collage, with lots of layers and lots of paint globbed on, usually with her fingers!

Some Projects From My Intro Class With Christy
Joanne Sharpe was all about color and lettering and pens and markers.

A Project From Joanne's Color-Love Class
My third instructor, Junelle Jacobsen, was mostly about sweet sketches and appreciating all the small things in life, like precious little lambies.

Alyssa Burke is an outdoor woman who lives on the Oregon coast, and she has a more graphic design approach to art, inspired by nature. She got me to start a nature journal.

Donna Downy is a true mixed-media artist, who uses everything from drywall tape and tissue paper to acrylic paints, stamping, and pastels in her creations.

A Project Done In Her Pan Pastel Class
An then of course there is Dyan Reaveley, whom I played with this week.

A Project I Made Using One Of Dyan's Couture Stamps
So here's the thing. Dyan had several of her completed journals there for us to thumb through, and at first they made me green with envy. Her's were all so gorgeous, and so, well, Dyan, while mine are all such ugly mishmashes of stuff. "Why can't mine be more like hers?", I wondered. But then, as I said, I got to thinking, and I realized that the main thing all of my teachers' art journals have, that mine don't, is just, well, consistency!

None of them had style or talent that was superior to anyone else. What set their journals apart is that they had each found their own groove and settled into it. They found a lettering style they were comfortable with and stuck with it. They figured out whether they preferred sketching or collage or whatever, and whether they preferred acrylics and watercolors over inks and sprays, and they stuck with those.  They even discovered their own personal palette. As a result of all this, their journals took on a cohesive style that was a reflection of them, and which became recognizable. Their journals stopped being a hodgepodge mash-up of everyone else's style, and began to have a sense of unity, and that unity is what made them gorgeous!

So there. That's my epiphany.